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Writer Robert Caro (Center)


The Scone Foundation’s Seventh Annual
Archivist of the Year Awards
CUNY Graduate Center
January 25, 2010

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photos Courtesy of Jonathan Marder & Associates

 

 


Mr. Khader Salameh, Dr. Yehoshua Freundlich, Stanley Cohen and Dr. Merav Mak

George Santayana famously said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." And repeat it we do, again and again (how many more nations will think it is a good idea to invade Afghanistan?). The "why" is an age- old paradox - most rulers are not scholarly enough to study the past and most scholars do not have the ego to become rulers. But for anyone, ruler or not, to learn from history, he/she must first know about it. This story of our collective past is the gift we are given by the archivists who record the human story.

On January 25, 2010, The Scone Foundation hosted a ceremony at the CUNY Graduate Center to award their Seventh Annual Archivist of the Year Award. This year there are two honorees, both from Jerusalem: Palestinian archivist, Mr. Khader Salameh of the Al-Aqsa Library and Muslim Museum; and Dr. Yehoshua Freundlich, the Israeli State Archivist.


Stanley Cohen

Stanley Cohen, founder of The Scone Foundation, began the evening by stating that, “The archivist plays an understated, but essential role in our society, and..“The role of the archivist is, however, much broader than acting as an essential resource for writers, researchers or historians and we thought that they should be honored more directly than a mention in the front or the back of a book.”

The award recipients were introduced by Dr. Merav Mack, a research fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute who works with the honorees on the British Library sponsored Endangered Archives Program, which has been digitizing endangered, archives. Dr. Mak said that, “Projects like this one had to be a collaborative effort and Mr. Salameh and Dr. Freundlich have invested a lot of time in this project. and...“We have today an exceptional opportunity because it is possible to have world heritage preserved.”


Dr. Yehoshua Freundlich


Mr. Khader Salameh

Both honorees spoke, telling about the importance of having a record of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. Both acknowledged the difficulty that Mr. Salameh faces in archiving history during a period of chaos. Dr. Freundlich told the group that even though Jerusalem has a very diverse population, there are no Palestinian archives in Israel. “Don’t lose faith,” Dr. Freundlich said, “We are keeping all the information…and it is incumbent upon us to pay attention to all communities.”

After the honorees had spoken, there was a post award conversation with Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and Dr. David N. Meyers, Director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Dr. Meyers stated, “Archives can be the bridge of understanding between conflicting parties.” Rashid Khalidi agreed saying “We need shared narrative in order for there to be peace. However, we need peace to reach this narrative and a narrative to reach peace.”

After the program, writers and guests were invited to join Mr. Cohen and the award winners for wine, dinner and conversation in the dining room on the top floor of the CUNY building. The dining room has a stunning sky lighted view of the Empire State Building, the building katy-corner to the CUNY building.

According to the press release from Jonathan Marder & Associates: "Noted guests included two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro, politician Hamilton Fish, New York Time’s columnist Roger Cohen, writer David Kahn, French academic, writer and historian Annie Cohen-Solal, and American journalist David Margolick.

The Scone Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides grants for artist programs, historical societies, and art schools as well as the annual Calder Prize, which provides to a sculptor a residency program at the Calder home and studio in France."

 

 

 

 



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